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Arrow - The Candidate - Review



Arrow, “The Candidate,” was written by the team of Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu and was directed by John Behring. Is anybody else struggling not to call the show Green Arrow now? Just me? I’m loving the new voiceover for the show. I am also liking that when they said that they were changing the “tone” of the show what they actually meant was that they were changing Oliver (Stephen Amell) to be more hopeful – that I can get behind!

If the first episode re-set the stage for the show, this episode definitely threw some new balls in the air. The episode begins with another great fight scene with the entire team pitching in to defuse a bomb. I loved the shot of Black Canary/Laurel (Katie Cassidy) zipping down the line. It wouldn’t be an Arrow fight scene without some witty banter, and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) supplies it by wanting her own code name – and one for Diggle (David Ramsey) too!

Once again, Oliver worries that Thea (Willa Holland) is being too violent and out of control. Thea insists she’s knows where the line is. I love watching Holland and Amell together as Red and Green Arrow! However, after Speedy loses her cool again and breaks the drug dealer’s (Kurtis Maguire) arm, Oliver baits her in front of the rest of the team to show them what he’s talking about. When Oliver sends her away from the drug dealer after she breaks her arm, there’s a great shot of Thea’s face, and she looks a little panic stricken. There’s no denying she’s lost control when Diggle has to pull her off Oliver. Holland is doing a terrific job with this storyline.

I was impressed that we didn’t see this secret drag on, and Oliver tells the others about the Lazarus Pit. Thea storms off, asserting that Oliver left, so he’s not qualified to judge her. It’s already clear though that she knows he’s right. Diggle wonders – as we all have – about why the pit is only affecting her now. Laurel immediately looks thoughtful.

We finally get to see Laurel and Thea as roomies. Laurel asks if Thea is alright and then asks for details about what happened on Nanda Parbat. Thea says she didn’t want to re-live it, but Ra’s killed her – or almost did – and then offered to use the Lazarus Pit. Laurel says, so this is a side effect. Thea is angry and says that Malcolm (John Barrowman) warned Oliver, but Oliver didn’t listen. Laurel – looking even more thoughtful – responds, “It was his sister. Of course not.” And that’s it. The wheels are turning.

Oliver comes to apologize to Thea. He admits he was wrong not to tell her about the Pit right away – “But that was the old me.” Have I mentioned that I really, really like when the team doesn’t keep secrets from each other? Laurel comes in to say she’s taking Thea for a spa weekend. Could Oliver be stupid enough to believe that? Of course, that’s not where they are going. Laurel proposes taking Thea to Nanda Parbat as the League will have the best idea of how to deal with the side effects. But they aren’t going alone. Laurel is determined to save her little sister the same way that Oliver saved his. So we get that fantastically gruesome cemetery scene and that terrific special effect of desiccated Sara!

The other secret that I was happy to see out in the relative open was when Laurel pressed Diggle for what was bothering him. Cassidy and Ramsey are both great in the scene – I like their pairing! I liked that Laurel reminded him that after all of Oliver’s secrets, they don’t keep secrets from each other. Diggle tells her that it’s a family thing. Like Sara. And Laurel clarifies for him that carrying a burden like that never ends any way but badly. As I said, I was pleasantly surprised when he actually told Laurel about Deadshot telling him about HIVE and Andrew. He also tells her that every lead he’s had in the two years has been a dead end.

I loved how Oliver was ready to send Felicity off to her first day back at work, making her lunch AND getting her a fern!! Awwwww! She is excited to be the big boss. Felicity returns to Palmer Industries only to find the company in severe financial crisis.

We meet Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum). He’s clearly going to be Felicity’s new, quirky, gay, genius sidekick. Kellum does seem like a fun addition to the cast. We first see him when the board brings him in to show off the algorithm that he came up with that will choose the employees who need to be fired. Felicity finally can’t take it anymore and hires back everyone she fired. She then does lie to the board, telling them that there’s a brand new revolutionary technology that Holt has developed that will save the company. She uses “proprietary information” to deflect the board, who give her six months to show results.

The main plot revolves around Jessica Danforth (Jeri Ryan), an old Queen family friend, coming forward to run for mayor. She tells this to Oliver and Thea over breakfast with her and her daughter, Madison (Tiera Skovbye) because she’s doing it to honor Moira who was her friend. Madison is clearly against the idea and Oliver and Thea aren’t too happy either. They attend Jessica’s announcement, and it’s no surprise when shots ring out.

Thea and Oliver split up to take control of the situation. Thea sends Oliver after Jessica and goes after the gunman herself. The gunman turns out to be a decoy, and Oliver encounters the week’s big bad – Lonnie Machin (Alexander Calvert). I loved Jessica seeing Oliver tussle with Machin and asking “How?!” and Oliver responding, “Self-defense classes!” before jumping over the railing after Machin! Hilarious! And a terrific foot chase to follow. I also liked Oliver explaining that he bought the truck to get the windshield that eventually leads to the fingerprint that Felicity uses to identify Machin. Funny to see him enjoying her money!

Calvert does a good job as the crazy villain of the week. Machin kidnaps Madison to get Jessica to withdraw her candidacy. He’s working for Damien Dahrk (Neal McDonough), who we learn has standards. We hear about that elusive line again. “There are lines one does not cross,” Dahrk tells Machin. He also tells him that he respects order, discipline and precision and then tells Machin to clean up the mess he’s made. Machin tells him that his vendetta against Jessica “is personal” but we never find out what it is. If the show has one weakness, it’s that we so often get a new villain but no explanation of their motivation.

Lance (Paul Blackthrone) goes to Darhk with almost the same sentiments. I think we’re going to discover that Lance has gotten into bed with Darhk because he thinks Darhk does value order and that’s what the city needs. Kidnapping Madison is crossing the line for Lance and he tells Darhk that they are done. Darhk then threatens Lance’s own daughter before giving him Machin’s location.

I loved the final fight between Machin and the team. Great shot for the four to drop in together! Diggle and Laurel whisk Madison to safety, while Thea and Oliver face off with Machin. He manages to zap Thea and then Oliver. Once again, in the heat of battle, Thea crosses the line. She sets Machin on fire. I was sure at first that he must have died, but we learn later in the episode that he’s still alive. And that he’s killed his guards and escaped the ambulance! I think we can look forward to a gruesome return from him. Once again, after having lost control, Thea looks stricken, and this is clearly the point at which she begins to acknowledge to herself that something is very wrong with her.

Oliver, meanwhile, has been discussing doing things differently. She says she thought their return would be a new beginning. Oliver points out that nothing worthwhile comes easy. He tells her that they just need to figure out the best way to do things differently. After Jessica withdraws, Oliver tells Felicity that both Jessica and Lance told him the city needs something that the Green Arrow can’t offer. The city needs hope and inspiration and someone who can do that in the light. But that person has to be able to protect themselves too. He declares that he is going to run for mayor!

It’s not entirely clear yet how the flashbacks are enhancing the present storyline. Oliver is back on the Island and is told to infiltrate after killing the soldier that finds him. The soldiers seem to have slave workers that they are guarding. Oliver gets rid of the soldier – and cleverly hides the evidence of the murder – by throwing him on a landmine. I loved that he simply pretended he’d been surviving alone on the island all this time by himself. Is anyone else struck by feeling that this Island is a little like Gilligan’s Island in that it seems to be so large that these kinds of operations can be going on and not be aware of all the other people plotting and scheming on the Island?

The soldiers take Oliver to their leader, Baron (Jimmy Akingbola), who recognizes Oliver. However, there’s no way he’s risking his operation by “rescuing” Oliver. Instead, he recognizes that Oliver living alone on the Island for three years must mean he has some skills, so he offers him the dead soldier’s job. Well played, show. I was sure Oliver was going to end up helping to harvest whatever it is they are growing. Also, well played for getting rid of that stupid wig!! Somebody asked about the wig not long ago and Amell was smirking while answering – and this would be why!

Another solid episode. I’m a little disappointed that Ryan was only guest starring, but the door is left open for her to return at some point – Jessica’s not dead, right? I’m loving Kellum as Holt and look forward to he and Felicity saving Palmer Industries. Can’t wait for the Lazarus Pit storyline to play out! What did you think of the episode? Will Oliver make a good mayor? Did you have a favorite scene? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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